Expressions and Idioms

The Afrikaans language is very rich in idiomatic expressions. Many of the idioms used in Afrikaans were inherited from Dutch or loaned from English.

The expression is listed, followed by a literal translation (or English equivalent). In the next line the explanation of the idiom is provided in Afrikaans, followed by an English explanation.

Vyfde wiel aan die wa wees. (To be the fifth wheel on the wagon.)
Oorbodig wees. (To be redundant.)

'n Naald in 'n hooimied soek. (Look for a needle in a haystack.)
Onbegonne taak onderneem. (To undertake an impossible task.)

Hy kan nie bokkem (or bokkom) braai nie. (He cannot fry a whole dried and salted mullet.)
Hy is onbevoeg vir sy taak. (He does not have the know-how.) : Afrikaans

J. Olivier (2009)